Retro: Fulham FC’s Maestro



Johnny Haynes Statue

One spot off those precious play-off positions, Fulham entertain promotion rivals Leeds United in the Championship tonight – and with Kitbag’s Retro Month continuing, we thought it was a fitting time to highlight the career of one of Craven Cottage’s most legendary figures.

Clubman and pioneer

Spending his entire professional career with Fulham in the First, Second and Third Divisions, Johnny Haynes remains the team’s record appearance-maker, enjoying 658 outings and scoring 158 goals. No player in history has been as closely-associated with the London club and while televised documentation of Haynes’ brilliance is tragically short in supply, tales of his time at Craven Cottage have more than secured his place in Fulham football folklore.

A player renowned for his finely-tuned skills and exceptional passing ability, Haynes went by the nickname of ‘The Maestro’ and his 26-goal haul in the club’s promotion season of 1958-59 was especially music to the ears of a Fulham faithful enthralled by his creative capabilities.

Having turned professional at the tender age of 17, Haynes quickly became one of the game’s early poster boys, paid handsomely for his endorsements with Brylcream and others as his fledgling career flourished. With his ascendancy intertwined with the rise of televised advertisements, Haynes can be seen as a prototype figure for the current era’s Paul Pogba-types; a player whose appeal and influence extended far beyond his feats on the pitch.

The £100 man

In 1961, Haynes found further fame as England’s first ever £100 player, striking a lucrative deal with Craven Cottage chairman Tommy Trinder after the previous wage cap of £20 had been rescinded. Legend has it the agreement came about after Trinder had declared Haynes was worth five times the limit; a boast that he subsequently honoured. Today, a wage of £100 a week would equate to around £80,000 per year; modest in the landscape of our bloated professional game, but still a noted increase for Haynes and those who would follow.

With his talents attracting admiration from across the game, Haynes almost signed for AC Milan in a switch that would have made him the world’s highest-paid footballer. However, despite interest from Milan and Roma, he would shun the road to Serie A taken by contemporaries John Charles (who decamped from Leeds United to Juventus) and later Denis Law (Manchester City to Torino). Similarly, whilst Bill Nicholson’s all-conquering Tottenham Hotspur would make a play for Haynes’ services, any thoughts of a move to North London for the Kentish Town native would be fleeting, as Haynes remained loyal to the Fulham fight.

Though never reaching a final in Fulham white, Haynes would appear in two FA Cup semi-final ties, taking a resurgent Manchester United to a replay in 1958 and achieving the same feat against Burnley four years later. Despite these disappointments, Haynes would enjoy multiple opportunities to shine on the Wembley stage; though each came in the white of England.

Leader of the Lions

The first player in history to represent England at every level, from schoolboy to senior international, Haynes would make 56 appearances for the Three Lions, including 22 as captain. During this period, he also would score a total of 12 goals, including a notable brace in the 9-3 thrashing of Scotland and a hat-trick in a 5-0 defeat of the Soviet Union. A testament to his performance in the latter, Haynes was even carried aloft on the shoulders of his teammates after the final whistle. Remarkably, more than half of Haynes’ England caps came while playing outside the English top flight, a rarity even in those vastly different times.

Despite featuring at two consecutive World Cups, Haynes’ international career was abruptly curtailed on the eve of the 1962-63 campaign, when he was involved in an unfortunate car accident in Blackpool, leaving him sidelined at the height of his career. On his return, it was argued that Haynes never fully recaptured his former form and despite the cries of his loyal supporters, the influential England skipper would never be recalled to Alf Ramsey’s international set-up, depriving him of a role at the era-defining 1966 World Cup.

After the injury

In 1968, Haynes stepped into the managerial hotseat at Fulham, following the departure of player-coach Bobby Robson. However, the stalwart would man the helm for a total of only four matches, quickly relinquishing the reigns to Arsenal boss Bill Dodgin and refocusing his energies on a Football League career that was steadily approaching its final days. In April 1969, Haynes’ dedication to the Craven Cottage cause across a turbulent twenty-year spell was rewarded with a testimonial against a Bobby Moore XI, attracting a sizable crowd of 25,000 to the London ground in a fitting tribute to Fulham’s greatest footballing son.

Ultimately, as the Sixties made way for the Seventies, Haynes’ own era would come to its own conclusion; a legendary one-club career culminating with a January send-off against Stockport. However, a new chapter in the Haynes story was soon to be written, as he headed to South Africa to ironically win his first and only league silverware. While the cross-continental transfer to Durban City courted controversy at the time, Haynes’ African adventure, which also took in stops at Durban United, Durban Celtic and Maritzburg, would play a major part in his life, before he returned to settle in Edinburgh in the mid-1980s.

In 2002, Haynes became one of the inaugural inductees in the English Football Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Bobby Charlton, Stanley Matthews and numerous other all-time greats. Meanwhile, in the wake of his untimely passing in 2005, Haynes’ life and career has been commemorated by both a statue at Craven Cottage and a stand renamed in his honour; ensuring his contributions to Fulham football remain a central part of the club’s identity. While the Johnny Haynes story may be over, the lauded Maestro of Craven Cottage still represents the benchmark; a player who, in his prime, would barely play a note wrong. AC

Pick up a Johnny Haynes-style Fulham #10 jersey from, as part of our Retro sale

Haynes shirt

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